This published book makes the teen authors so proud!
This published book makes the teen authors so proud!

Poetry Project

Every Monday my students and I set the rudder for our week by practicing mindful breathing. During these quiet moments, we set intentions, wish ourselves and others well, and read the words of poets, songwriters, and rappers who celebrate the value of being present and kind.

Next, students use these models to write their own lines. By doing so, they learn to appreciate the artistry involved in crafting a poem, and in being a compassionate human on planet Earth.

This collection of poems is the result of their efforts.

The poets are mostly Latino, either born here or from Mexico and Central America. They are twelve or thirteen years old, and face many challenges in their homes and community, including poverty, homelessness, the loss of parents due to violence, and being separated from loved ones across borders. In the face of all this turmoil, I would like to thank the students for taking on the challenge of sitting quietly and learning to “make friends” with their breath (and themselves).

Amidst the noise of social media, can we be still? As an anchor in the oftentimes rough seas of middle school—rife with cyberbullying and addiction to technology—mindfulness has arrived. I call it the “Poetry Project.”


Poems To Help Us Remember

Helms Middle School
English Language Development Students
Laura Bean, Editor


Feel the Air

Before you know what kindness really is, you must lose things,

Feel the fresh air on your face.

To learn to be mindful, you should take deep breaths.

You must breathe in.

You must breathe out.


Before you know kindness as the deepest thing inside

You must know the air is with you.

You must go outside and feel the breeze.

Then it is only kindness that matters.

You respect everything.

–Jonathan Hernandez

by Christian Rosales


I am proud to call myself guatemelteco

Tamales, salsa, and rainbow-colored dresses

Riding motorcycles around the park with my cousin

Practicing cock fights

I am proud to call myself guatemelteco

–Christian Rosales

go ahead monster

Go Ahead

It’s difficult to know what to do with so much happiness.

Even the fact that you once read a good book,

And now must stay at home

Cannot make you unhappy.

Everything has a life of its own,

It too could wake up filled with possibilities

Of tacos and arroz con leche

And love even an allergic reaction that

Blows up your face like a ugly monster.

Since there is no place large enough

To contain so much happiness,

you breathe, you stretch, and love your life.

–Enya Lopez


The Sniff of my Friends’ Perfume

The smoke of my breath

Breathing in, breathing out

Chest rising, calming,

Myself, a blue sky, an ocean

A bird in a beautiful day

The sniff of my friends’ perfume when we hug each other

The sound of our kisses


Have you reckon’d how lucky you are to have people around you

who love you?

Have you practised so long to learn to love the people who love you?

Have you felt so proud to have beautiful people around you?


Stop this day and night with me and you shall possess a happy life.

You shall no longer fight in school.

You shall be nice to other people.

–Katerin Serrano